Families living in mobile homes in Brooklyn Park and other sections of the county are fiercely fighting a move to charge them retroactivesecurity deposits.
Mobile home owners have been up in arms ever since three trailer parks began charging security deposits, even of long-term residents.
They've enlisted the support of Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum, who has introduced a bill to protect longtime residents in thecounty's 26 trailer parks.
"We have people who have been living in these parks for up to 30 years and never had to pay a security deposit before," said Marie Delano, president of the county's Mobile Homeowners Association. "Nobody has a spare $300 lying around their house."
Single mothers have called her in tears, afraid they will be evicted, Delano said. Many senior citizens also are worried about scraping together $300 to $350 for a deposit.
The owners of Severn Mobile Home Park, Arundel Village in Odenton and The Chesapeake in Harmans triggered the protest by sending out notices of the new charges last month. Attorney Leonard Homa, who represents the trailer parks, could not be reached for comment.
Delano said the owners have told her they need security deposits to prevent residents from packing up inthe middle of the night and leaving their lot trashed.
She calledthe reason "a bunch of malarkey," saying trailer owners couldn't move out so easily. Permanent trailers have to be disconnected and have their utilities unplugged first, she said.
The mobile home association, which represents more than 3,000 residents, turned to Bachman for help. The councilman, who represents Brooklyn Park, Ferndale and Linthicum, already backed trailer owners earlier this year in a battleto keep their television antennas.
"A lot of people living in these parks are on fixed incomes," he said. "That's why they're in mobile homes -- it's affordable housing."
When The Chesapeake installedcable earlier this summer and asked residents to take down their oldantennas, Bachman fought for legislation to protect those who couldn't afford cable fees. He passed a bill that permitted the mobile homeowners to keep their television antennas.
In the current dispute,Bachman contends that trailer parks have the right to charge deposits of new residents, not longtime owners.
"What I'm concerned about, and what a lot of different residents are concerned about, is that we have a lot of elderly living on very little, some of whom are barely making it," he said. "Now, all of a sudden, they have to come up with an extra $350."
The trailer parks in Brooklyn Park -- two on Belle Grove Road and one on Hammonds Lane -- haven't begun charging retroactive security deposits. But residents are worried.
"This deposit thing is catching on," Bachman said.
A public hearing on his bill is scheduled for Sept. 16 before the County Council. Delano hopesto recruit dozens of mobile home owners to testify against retroactive deposits.
"We're doing all we can to stop it," she said.